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What you need to know this week first female and first African appointed as WTO director, Xi and Biden clash in first conversation, Myanmar protestors face 20 years prison, and competition in the Arctic increases. 

Development

Colombia makes historic decision to grant legal status to 1.7 Million Venezuelan migrants. The decision will allow Venezuelan migrants who register with the Colombian government to stay and work legally in the country for 10 years.

Nevada bill to allow tech companies to create local governments. The plan is to bring in new companies that are at the forefront of ground breaking technologies. Their local governments would have control over imposing taxes, forming school districts and justice courts and provide government services. 

Bitcoin consumes ‘more electricity than Argentina’. “Mining” for the cryptocurrency is power-hungry, involving heavy computer calculations to verify transactions.

Germany first country to bring self-driving cars into regular operation. A driver still has to be on board to intervene in certain situations. The next step will be having passengers only who only intervene in emergency situations. 

Politics

China will ‘eat our lunch,’ Biden warns after clashing with Xi on most fronts. The US President and his Chinese counterpart spoke for 2 hours and were at odds on most issues. President Xi warned that confrontation would be a “disaster” for both nations. 

India announces plan to inject $130 billion for defence modernisation after flak over limited military budget. The amount will be injected over 7-8 years to counter the threats of a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

Draghi forms new government in Italy. The ex-European Central Bank chief has been sworn in as PM. He will have to manage an unwieldy coalition including traditionally bitter foes such as the 5-Star Movement and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the right-wing League and centre-left Democratic Party.

Belarus’s Lukashenko convenes “People’s Assembly”. The Belarusian President launched a “People’s Assembly” of 2,700 delegates that promised constitutional reforms at a referendum next year but opponents see it as a ruse to help him keep power. 

Lebanon’s Hariri sees no way out of crisis without Arab support. The Lebanese Prime Minister designate said that his country could not be rescued from its current crisis without the support of Arab countries and the international community. Arab states are wary of Hezbollah’s hold on the presidential office.

Conflict

Myanmar coup: Protesters face up to 20 years in prison under new law. The military has warned anti-coup protesters could face up to 20 years in prison if they obstruct the armed forces. Long sentences and fines will also apply to those found to incite “hatred or contempt” towards the coup leaders.

India and China reach disengagement agreement over border dispute. Both countries’ troops have been in a standoff since April 2020 in the Ladakh region, which has resulted in multiple fatal clashes. 

Denmark to spend more on Arctic defence as melting sea ice prompts jostle for control. Denmark will significantly strengthen its defence capabilities in the Arctic, including long-range drones and radars, as shrinking sea ice has fast-tracked a race among global powers for control over resources and waterways.

NATO’s Afghanistan withdrawal depends on violence levels. The Taliban must meet the terms of a 2020 peace agreement with the United States to allow for any possible foreign troop withdrawal by a May deadline. 

Philippines will increase naval presence to protect fishermen in South China Sea, military chief says. The Philippines has protested a new law in China that allows its coastguard to board or open fire on foreign vessels in waters it regards as its territory, which officials said could heighten risks of a miscalculation.

Economics

Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala confirmed as first African and first female WTO Director General. She was selected by consensus to be the next director-general of the World Trade Organization at a closed-door meeting after President Biden reversed the US opposition to her appointment. 

Shell says oil production will fall every year, forever. The company expects its oil production to drop by 1-2% every year for the foreseeable future. Shell’s oil production will still be around 1 million barrels per day in 2050 — a 45 percent reduction from 2019.

Inflation rising in emerging markets after first time use of quantitative easing by their central banks. Declining currency values can be damaging to emerging markets reliant on foreign imports of basic goods like food and fuel. Countries like Turkey, Brazil, and Nigeria are now smarting from the pain of food inflation.

Nikkei index breaks 30,000 barrier for first time in three decades. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei Stock Average breached the 30,000 mark for the first time in nearly 31 years, as strong corporate earnings and optimism that progress in COVID-19 vaccine development will lift the global economy. 

Amsterdam beats London as Europe’s top share trading hub. The Dutch capital recorded a four-fold growth in volume to $11.2 billion in January, with London falling to $10.4 billion.

Social

Deep concerns as China refused to release early data on COVID. The White House, amongst others, called on China to make available data from the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying it has “deep concerns” about the findings of the WHO’s COVID-19 report.

Britain’s Karim Khan elected International Criminal Court prosecutor for a nine year term. He is best known for heading the United Nations’ special investigative team looking into Islamic State crimes in Iraq. 

Brazilian ballerina born without arms soars with her attitude. Born in a small town, Vitória Bueno is now a regular performer in the ballet in her state of Minas Gerais. Bueno’s talent has made her a social media star and an inspiration to many.

Chinese couples rush to file for divorce as new law that requires 30-day ‘cooling off’ period kicks in. A new law in China that makes it harder for couples to divorce has sent husbands and wives rushing to file applications to dissolve their marriages.